Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Carl Hester

There are only three out gay male athletes competing in the London Olympics, which began yesterday: Australian diver Matthew Mitcham*, and equestrians Edward Gal and Carl Hester, who are rivals in the sport of dressage. I published a post on Edward Gal two days ago, so today we'll get to know Carl Hester**, who is the only out gay athlete representing host nation Great Britain.

When Carl Hester (b. 1967 in London) decided to take up the sport of dressage in the early 1980s, he was already a natural. Only 18 months after he began training for the sport, Hester won the National Young Rider Championship (1985). He quickly landed on the British Young Rider team in 1988, and he hasn’t looked back.

This year’s Olympic Games will be Carl’s fourth. Unfortunately, he and his team have never favored well in Olympic competition; a slew of mishaps and all-around bad luck have kept him off of the podium. However, 45-year-old Carl has experienced much success in the international dressage circuit. Britain has never won an Olympic dressage medal, but Team Great Britain will arrive at Greenwich Park as reigning European team champions. Hester hopes to change his past misfortune and bring home Olympic Gold.

At the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Carl and Escapado (his horse) placed higher than any other Briton – the same thing at the 2005 European Championships, where the pair ended up in 6th place. On the run up to the 2007 European Championships, Carl was injured and had to back out at the last minute. Bad luck continued into 2008. His two promising horses for Beijing’s Olympic Games, Lecantos and Dolendo, both suffered injuries, so he missed competing.

Hester was soon given an opportunity to ride a new horse, Liebling, and the two formed a quick, strong bond and won an international grand prix. A host of other great results would lead the British team to select Carl for the European Dressage Championships in 2009. Carl’s riding helped Team GB win a silver medal in that event, and he would repeat those results a year later with another silver medal.

As the 2012 Olympic dressage events approach, Hester, partnered with his horse Uthopia, is confident in his abilities and hopes he can help his team take the top prize.

**Among Hester’s former partners was another openly gay equestrian, Spencer Wilton.

*A much earlier post on Australian diving superstar Matthew Mitcham can be accessed by clicking this link:

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